Chapter 3: Soul Brothers
Seven to eight days later, Zhang Yang went back to his house after receiving his graduation certificate. On his way home, he dropped by and bought himself a gaming helmet. Now that everything has been prepared, all he needed to do left was to wait for ‘God’s Miracle’ to start. According to the internet announcement, the game will start its servers globally on the 10th of this month.
‘Dong dong dong!’ Someone came knocking.
It was not that Zhang Yang did not have a doorbell, he did. It was just that the contraption had been decades old and as such, had broke down a few years back.
“Who is it?” Zhang Yang went to the door and peeked through the peephole. A sweating fatty was standing at his doorstep, repeatedly fanning himself with a paper fan. Zhang Yang got excited as he saw the familiar guy. He opened the door hastily and smiled as he said, “Long time no see Fatty Han!”
Han was shocked by Zhang Yang’s overly-excited reaction. He screamed, “Why are you so excited? It’s not like I owed you money. Hey, hey, hey! You’re not into homosexual stuff right?!”
Han Guang had been his soul brother before they could even put on their pants. The two of them went to junior school all the way up to high school together. Throughout the years, their relationship developed through their participation in street brawls. Even though Zhang Yang eventually enrolled in university and Han Guang started work, their friendship had never been affected. Zhang Yang knew that in one year’s time, Hang Guang would get involved in a street fight and suffer a grievous injury. He would die before he could be sent to the hospital.
At that time, the incident left a scar on Zhang Yang. He could not even smile for half a year.
This time, he would not let any accident befall his soul brother. Zhang Yang swore in his heart as he revealed a calm and cheerful expression. As he calmed himself as if nothing had ever happened, he asked Fatty Han, “Today is not a holiday, what are you doing here?”
Subconsciously, Zhang Yang did not want anyone to know about his predicament. Even if he were to tell people about it, no one would believe him. Secondly, if his secret was exposed, he could be captured and subjected to experiments. In the end, he decided that he’d rather bring his secret to the grave.
Han Guang pursed his lips and said, “Holiday my ass, I quit my job! That bastard manager is a bloody animal. I always knew that he likes to harass the female employees. Yesterday, I caught him molesting a girl in the pantry. Because I couldn’t endure it any longer, I ended up beating him. He was so enraged that he had the female employee and I fired!”
Zhang Yang shook his head and said, “That employee, did she blame you for dragging her down with you?”
“Eh, how’d you guess it?” Han Guang exclaimed. “That b*tch must have gotten her brain bashed out. Here I am, being a Samaritan trying to save the day, but all I got in return was nothing but blame. If I had not acted, that sh*tty manager could have…”
Zhang Yang smiled inwardly, of course he could have guessed it. It was Han Guang himself who told him about this incident before. Zhang Yang patted his shoulder and said, “It’s a sh*tty world we’re living in!”
Han Guang let out a sigh and said, “You are absolutely right, this is a d*mn sh*tty world we’re living in!”
After the two of them entered the house, Han Guang went to the fridge and helped himself to a bottle of beer. He then bit off the bottle cap with his teeth. In just two to three gulps, he finished the entire bottle of beer like a cow drinking water. After finishing a bottle, he wiped his mouth and yelled, “Awesome!”
Zhang Yang sat in front of him and asked, “What do you plan to do next? Find a new job?”
“That’s why I’m here today!” Han Guang whispered secretly, “Have you ever heard of ‘God’s Miracle’?”
“The one that is always advertised on the television?” said Zhang Yang snickering.
Han Guang got excited and said, “Yeah, that’s the one! I heard this from my cousin who sells the gaming helmets for the game. He said that there are many people who will be playing this game, and through it, you can earn a fortune!”
“Oh, how?” Zhang Yang vaguely recalled that Han Guang used this method to persuade him to join the game, yet he rejected his invitation. Now that he thought about it, if he had taken Han Guang’s advice and accepted his invitation to join the game on its release day, he might not have had that resulting wretched ending!
With a face as though he has had everything thought out, Han Guang said, “My cousin said that there is a way. Once you achieve level 20, you will unlock the ability to use the Real-Money Trade (RMT1) System. That service allows you to trade in-game currency for real-world currency. As long as we can farm enough gold, we could be rich.”
“Ok, I’m up for it. I had wanted to play the game anyway,” said Zhang Yang, happily nodding away. He had many methods and strategies to amass fortune at the tip of his fingers. Even if he taught the fatty a way or two, it would still not affect his ability to earn a lot. Naturally, for a friend, he would not be that stingy about it.
Han Guang was filled with happiness. “With us brothers working together against all obstacles, we would be able to defeat our enemies and become unstoppable! Right, Yang, what if we really did earn a fortune? How are we going to spend it? Are we going to fill a house with a bunch of bikini girls for me to ogle at all day?”
“Scram, you pervert!” Zhang Yang pretended to get incensed.
Han Guang grinned lecherously, revealing his bright white teeth. Ever since he was young, this fatty had always dreamed of establishing the world’s greatest harem. This was especially true after he had read the manhua2,‘The King of the Harem .
“Right, so…” Zhang Yang pretended to ask casually, “What race and class are you going to pick?”
“Elf Race, Thief!” Han Guang answered without hesitation. He must have had some level of understanding towards the game, otherwise he would not have uttered those words.
Zhang Yang could not recall what class Han Guang had picked in his previous life, but a Thief… Zhang Yang said, “I think you’d better pick another class. Hm… I think a Hunter should suit you well!”
“Why?” asked Han Guang.
“It is because of your big and bulky personality. It doesn’t even suit the requirements of a sneaky and agile Thief. In fact, it’s not just Thieves but every other type of melee attack classes would not suit you either! I think you’d better choose to be a Hunter… hm, a Beastmaster. With your pet engaging the enemy in front, you could stand your ground and attack. Isn’t this much safer?! For Beastmasters, they posses good dungeon raiding ability, decent damage output, and an overpowered skill called <Fake Death>’. It is an aggro3-clearing skill, a powerful utility skill indeed!” Zhang Yang exclaimed.
Hang Guang nodded while deep in thought. He could not help but agree with Zhang Yang’s statement. “I would have never thought that you were so knowledgeable.”
Zhang Yang smiled as he tried to search for an excuse. “When I decided to play this game, I did my research on the forums.”
“Oh…” The innocent fatty immediately took his words as the truth. “In that case, I’ll try the Hunter for a change!”
“When you achieve level 5, buy a few bottles of [Porto Whiskey] and try to hand it over to an NPC called Ol’ Drunkard Si Wang.”
“I’ve read about it. That NPC will trigger a hidden class quest for the Hunter job!” Zhang Yang tried giving another excuse.
“Really?” said Han Guang suspiciously.
“Have I ever lied to you?” asked Zhang Yang.
“All the time.”
“F*ck, this time it is real. Believe me!” Zhang Yang scratched his head, resisting the urge to smack someone.
He recalled that there was a Hunter above level 100 who encountered a bug when he completed the quest. Besides the Hunter who completed the quest, one of his party members also received the reward. It was Phoenix, a legendary pet.
Not only did the Phoenix have a high damage output, it could also be used as a mount. Imagine riding on the Phoenix, with that trail of blazing fire. What sort of awe would it inspire?! If both of them summoned their Phoenixes in the middle of the main city, how many players would have their jaws drop in wonder?
Unfortunately, the hidden quest had only one drawback. That was, beside the first two players who have received the reward, no other player can ever get their hands on a Phoenix. Non-Hunter classes can only deploy their mounts in the open world. They cannot summon their rides in a dungeon or the battle arena. Because the bug’s effect on the game was not as damaging as the developers expected it to be, they decided to allow both the Hunter and his party member to retain their unique pets.
This time, it would be their turn to own this amazing pet! The Hunter and his party member who obtained them in Zhang Yang’s past were Korean. Zhang Yang never did like the Koreans, so even if he snatched the unique pets back he would believe in the adage, ‘Finders, Keepers’.
“Alright! I’ll stake my trust on you once again!” Han Guang finally agreed to his proposal. “Did you buy a gaming helmet?”
“I have already prepared long ago. I’m just waiting for the servers to start!”
“Hey, hey. let’s go to the restaurant across the road and have a few drinks! I tell you, there’s this new girl there. She looks just like a fairy. I think she has some feelings for me. Whenever I was around, she would send me flirtatious glances!”
“Didn’t you say that the last time?”
“You little brat, you dare to question the charms of this daddy! Ah right, what class will you be playing as?”
”You’ll know what it is when the time comes!”
“Tch! Why are you putting on airs for? I hope you get strike by lighting!”
A few days passed and the last day of June arrived.
At 8.45am, ‘God’s Miracle’ would begin simultaneously around the world, allowing players to register their accounts and create their characters. At 9am, the server for the world’s 8 regions would come online, signifying the integration of this futuristic and titanic digital system with the public’s lives.
Zhang Yang put on the helmet and felt a strange and unexplainable electric current travel across the skin of his head. Zhang Yang waited for 3 to 4 minutes before a bright light emerged, ringing a familiar sound.
“Welcome to the world of ‘God’s Miracle’!”
“Generating game account… please wait a moment!”
“Synchronizing your brainwaves and biometrics to your account. Please note that there is no need to input your password the next time you log in. The system will scan your brainwaves and automatically match you to your game account!”
“Please note that only one character can be created per person! If you wish to create another character, you must delete your current character before you can create a new one! Once you have created a new character, you cannot create a new one within the next 15 days and a new character cannot be deleted within its first 3 days!”
“Account creation successful! Welcome to the continent of Norlanda! Warrior, the Union is in need of your assistance!” the soft voice of a girl echoed in his ears. A familiar scene played in front of him. Countless demons and spectres rained down from the heavens and crawled up from the earth with every intention of attacking the solitary city of humanity mercilessly.
The setting of ‘God’s Miracle’ was that the Humans had joined forces with the Elves, Beastmen, and Dwarves to fight off the invasion of the invading demons and spectres. Zhang Yang had seen this scene countless of times which led him to click on the ‘Skip’ button to jump to the character creation interface.
“Please pick your race!” said the soft, feminine voice of the system.
“Race selection, Human confirmed!” the soft voice continued. “Please select your class!”
“Class selection, Warrior confirmed! Please choose your specialization!”
For every class, there would be a choice of specialization. The specializations available to a Warrior was the Berserker and the Guardian.
“Guardian!” Zhang Yang let out a nostalgic smile.
In his previous life, he picked Guardian as his specialization. Zhang Yang picked the same class because of two reasons, the first being that he actually loved the class very much. The second reason was because he thoroughly understood the class. Every class possessed hidden quests that was related to it. These non-repeatable quests had luxurious rewards. Zhang Yang had finalized his decision because these quests were directly linked to the class and Zhang Yang fully understood the Warrior class.
“Specialization, Guardian confirmed!” the voice continued. “Please enter your character’s name!”
“Character name, Zhan Yu confirmed!”
As the system sound paused, the scene changed and a figure that was a mirror image of him appeared. “This is the character created based on your physical characteristics, you can modify and change the facial complexion by using the system’s user interface!”
Even though adjustments could not be made for the body, since Zhang Yang had always focused on exercising, in addition to his height of 180cm5, he had no complaints about his character’s physical appearance. He thought for a while and did some modifications to his facial features. For better or worse, he only wanted to make it difficult for him to be recognized by others.
After he was done modifying his character, he selected ‘Confirm’.
“Character creation complete, please wait patiently for the connection to establish! While waiting, you may check your character’s ability guide to ensure a more thorough understanding of your role for a better gaming experience! Good gaming!”
A character interface appeared in front of him. The character that he had just created was wearing a set of worn-out equipment and had a short sword strapped to his waist. As a Guardian, he did not even have a shield. He knew that only when his character has reached level 5 and only after completing the required class quest, would he receive a Steel-grade shield.
Currently, he only had 3 pieces of equipment.
[Worn-out Chest Plate] (White-Wood, Armor)
Level Requirement: 0
[Worn-out Shin Guard] (White-Wood, Armor)
Defense : +1
Level Requirement: 0
[Beginner’s Short Sword] (White-Wood, One-handed Sword)
Weapon Attack: 1-3
Attack Interval: 2 seconds
Level Requirement: 0
Attack Interval determined the frequency or rate of attacks. After performing a normal attack, the period before another attack could be initiated would be the Attack Interval. Dagger weapons would have the shortest interval time, followed by one-handed weapons and ranged weapons. The longest attack interval would be the two-handed weapon type.
Wood-grade equipment were also known as White-tiered equipment. Only the defense attribute of a White-tiered equipment could be enhanced further. As for White-tiered weapons, they would possess extremely mediocre attack stats. The next step-up from White-Wood equipment would be Black-Steel, followed by Green-Copper, Gray-Silver6, Yellow-Gold, Violet-Platinum, Mythical, Ethereal, Holy, Ascended and finally, Celestial, the highest tiered and strongest equipment currently available in the game. Due to such distinction between equipment, the quality of the resultant stats provided by these equipment is also extremely wide. This forced players to continuously grind5 in order to placate their need for improvement.
Zhang Yang’s character attributes are as followed,
[Player: Zhan Yu]
Level : 0
HP : 50/50
Rage : 0/100
Defense : 2
Vitality : 0
Strength : 4
Dexterity : 1
Intelligence : 0
Spirit : 0
Luck : 0
Melee Damage : 5-8
Attack Interval : 2 seconds
Ranged Attack : NIL
Vitality, Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Spirit are the 5 basic player attributes.
Vitality : Increases a character’s Max HP. 10 HP will be added for every point invested.
Strength : Increases a character’s physical damage. A certain amount of damage will be added for every 2 points invested.
Dexterity : Increases a character’s movement speed and its physical attack’s critical rate. Additionally, for Thieves and Hunters, it will increase skill damage.
Intelligence : Increases a character’s spell damage, Max MP and its spell’s critical rate. 10MP and a certain amount of damage will be added for every point invested.
Spirit : Reduces a character’s casting time and increases its MP regeneration speed.
Luck was a special attribute that cannot be increased through equipment bonuses. It could be obtained as a reward for completing certain main quests or high-difficulty hidden quests. This attribute had many uses, such as potentially allowing the player to deal a triple-damage strike, called <Lucky Strike>.
Every new character would have a total of 5 points that had been automatically assigned to their basic attributes. Since Warriors do not require Intelligence or Spirit, these two attributes would begin with 0 points invested. Strength and Dexterity, on the other hand, would have more points allocated in them.
Rage was only possessed by Warrior classes. While out-of-combat, a Warrior’s Rage would be reduced to 0. After entering combat, Rage would constantly accumulate by 1 point every second. Rage could also be increased depending on the damage output of regular attacks and a character’s level. Utilizing skills would generally consume Rage and were often called Rage Discharge.
1 Real-Money Trade (RMT) refers to the practice of exchanging virtual currency, items, accounts or services for real-world cash. A good example of RMT would be the most expensive transaction for a virtual product which was Club Neverdie in Entropia Universe. According to online sources, Club Neverdie transacted for a total of $635,000! Popular RMT services also include power-leveling a client’s character to the level cap, or providing a client with a huge amount of in-game currency.
2 Manhua (漫画) actually directly translates to comics. However, due to the recent rise of different styles of comics which can normally be sub-categorized into products of different regions, readers have used manhua (Chinese), manga (Japanese) and manhwa (Korean) to identify them respectively. As such, this translation would be using manhua instead of comics to show that the characters are referring to a Chinese-style comic.
3 Aggro is an internet and gaming lingo frequently used among players who participate in group battles in an online game. Aggro is somewhat similar to the enmity of an NPC towards any specific player. By performing certain actions that may be deemed to be threatening towards NPCs, players would accumulate aggro which would then lead the NPC to focus their attacks on the player with the highest aggro. Tank classes would normally have aggro-building skills to keep an NPC’s attacks focused on themselves, while certain classes may have aggro-clearing skills to prevent NPCs from targeting them.
4 Zhan Yu (战御) directly translates to Imperial War. However, as a character’s name, Imperial War would be terrible especially since it is the protagonist’s name which would appear very frequently. As such, I have decided to retain the Chinese pinyin of the name.
5 Grind or grinding in gaming lingo is the act of continuously and repetitively killing monsters or completing repeatable quests in the hopes of achieving a specific goal such as leveling up or farming certain item drops from the game.
6 Gray-Silver (白银, baiyin) should actually be translated into White-Silver. However, since the author uses the color/material names interchangeably, White-Silver might be confused with White-Wood. One example would be when the author uses White-tiered equipment. Is the author referring to White-Wood rarity, or White-Silver rarity? As such, I have taken the liberty of translating ‘White’ in White-Silver to ‘Gray’. The tiers would then be as follows: White, Black, Green, Gray, Yellow, Violet.